27 Jul 2016
By Wright Communications
As part of Coeliac Awareness Week in May, Coeliac New Zealand launched the pilot for a new, accredited 'Dining Out Programme' which means that the 65,000 Kiwis who suffer from coeliac disease will soon be able enjoy a more inclusive social life and eat out safely.
Hell Pizza was one of the first restaurants to sign up to the pilot programme - and the only Quick Service Restaurant chain to date. General Manager Ben Cumming says it was a no-brainer to sign up for the accreditation programme.
"We've been making pizza for 20 years, and we've always focussed on catering for customers with special dietary requirements, so joining the Dining Out Programme is another way to ensure that our pizzas are the best damned pizzas in this life or the next - for absolutely everyone. We have 69 stores in New Zealand, and about 5% of our pizzas sold are gluten-free - that's a lot of people eating our dough, so we want to make sure that if we say it's gluten-free, it really is," he says.
Carl Sunderland, General Manager of Coeliac New Zealand, says that restaurants and cafés that sign up to the programme will be able to provide an extra assurance that the gluten-free options on the menu really are gluten-free.
"The 'Dining Out Programme' means that eateries offering gluten-free selections will be able to substantiate their claims. For true coeliacs, this is critical to differentiating between somewhere that only offers trendy 'gluten-free' options, and somewhere that's actually safe for them to eat," he says.
"We're delighted with how the pilot has gone and all five businesses  that signed up have since passed an independent audit which means they are now fully accredited to serve safe, gluten-free food.
"My Food Bag has also come on board and we're hoping to have another 20 - 30 signed up by Christmas," he says.
Sunderland wants coeliacs, as well as their friends and family, to take this message to their favourite local eateries and urge them to sign up.
"Our community of followers has been adamant that this is the one thing that would make a huge difference to their lives, and we've listened. Now we need their help to get local restaurants excited about joining the line-up," he says.
The 'Dining Out Programme' just won Fine Food New Zealand's Innovation Award for 'Most Innovative Food Service Product', and puts New Zealand on the map in terms of catering to the needs of international gluten-free tourists.
To become an accredited business, go to http://www.coeliac.org.nz/dop or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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